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A Return To Bermondsey Wall – Bevington Street, George Row And Bridge House

A couple of months ago, I featured a photo that my father had taken in Bermondsey. He had written the following notes to explain when and where the photo was taken “Flockton Street looking south from Bermondsey Wall. 19th century slum dwellings ravaged by the blitz – Summer 1948”. When I visited what remains of Flockton Street I was doubtful that this was the right location. Many features of the existing streets and in the photo did not line up.

I am really gratefull to a number of readers who identified the correct location as being Bevington Street in Bermondsey, and that a couple of the features in the original 1948 photo can still be seen to confirm. A quick look at Google Streetview clearly showed the location, however I was not content just to use Streetview as the purpose of this project is to revisit and photograph from the same viewpoints as in my father’s photos, so a couple of weeks ago I took another walk to Bermondsey to photograph Bevington Street – a location I have walked past a number of times, but for reasons I will explain later in the post, I was looking in the other direction.

My revisit also enabled the location of another photo to be confirmed, and I also found the location of a building photographed for the Wonderful London series of books published in 1926.

This is the view of Bevington Street from Bermondsey Wall photographed by my father in 1948:

Bermondsey Wall

And this is the same view today:

Bermondsey Wall

There are only two features that remain the same, but serve to confirm the location. The school on the left and the small brick building on the right which now appears to house an electrical substation – remarkable that in all the redevelopment of the area this small building has survived.

So where is Bevington Street? The following extract from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Atlas of Greater London shows the location. Bevington Street can be seen just to the right of the large Y. The school is further to the right, just across Farncombe Street.

Bermondsey Wall

Flockton Street, the wrongly identified location can be seen to the left, leading off from Bermondsey Wall, so these streets are very close. I suspect my father wrote up his notes for the photos after developing the negatives and looking at his route on the map, accidentally picked the wrong street.

I have used this 1940 map as it helps to explain a feature that can be seen today.

Bevington Street ends at Bermondsey Wall, and directly across from Bevington Street, between Bermondsey Wall and the River Thames is Fountain Green Square. The following photo is the view from the end of Bevington Street, looking across Bermondsey Wall to Fountain Green Square.

Bermondsey Wall

The name is very appropriate as there is a central green with a stone fountain in the centre. New housing is arranged around two sides of the green and the River Thames is alongside the far side of the green.

Looking back at the 1940 map and there is a feature here called Fountain Dock. The 1895 Ordnance Survey Map provides some additional detail and shows the shape and location of Fountain Dock.

Bermondsey Wall

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

The Southwark Council Conservation Area Appraisal (February 2013) confirms that the site of Fountain Green Square was the site of Fountain Dock, and that the dock was one of the few dry docks that operated along this part of the river.

Checking the overlay feature on the National Library of Scotland site, the dry docks appears over the easterly part of the green and partly under the houses on the eastern edge of the green, rather than occupying the full space of the green.

I checked the London Metropolitan Archives, Collage site and there are two photos from 1929 that show the dry dock. The first is looking from the north west corner of the dock, back towards where Bermondsey Wall runs right to left.

Bermondsey Wall

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0912_A52734

The second photo, also from 1929, is looking from the south east corner of the dock, towards the river and the direction of the City.

Bermondsey Wall

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0912_A5273

These photos from 1929 show Fountain Dock much as it must have been in the 19th century. Dry docks are important as they allow the hull of a ship to be inspected and worked on. The ship was moved into the dock, gates to the river closed and water pumped out from the dock, so somewhere alongside there must have been a building that housed the pump.

In an advert for the dry dock in Lloyd’s List on the 13th May 1893, the dimensions are given as a length of 161 feet and depth of 16 feet. The dock was owned by Mills & Knight who also owned the larger Nelson Dry Dock in Rotherhithe.

In addition to numerous adverts for the dry dock, 19th century newspapers included reports of accidents at the dock, as well as ships for sale. It appears to have been standard practice to offer a ship for sale when the ship is in dry dock for repair. The earliest example I could find was from the Shipping & Mercantile Gazette on the 27th August 1850, when the following ship was in Fountain Dry Dock and advertised for sale:

“The A1 Liverpool-built Barque BRAZILIAN, 345 tons, now lying in the Fountain Dry Dock, and ready for inspection; is in the course of re-coppering, &c., and, if not sold within a reasonable time, will be sent out again by her present owner. Length, 107 feet; breadth, 23 1-10 feet; depth 13 3-10 feet; carries a large cargo at an extraordinary light draught of water, and shifts without ballast”.

The following photo is the view taken from roughly the same viewpoint as the above photo. Today there is a fountain in the centre of the green.

Bermondsey Wall

The 1895 Ordnance Survey Map does not show a fountain, so I do not know if the fountain was moved here when the green was created to provide some relevance to the name. I doubt the fountain was here originally as it looks of rather fine construction to have been in such an industrial area – however I also do not know how Fountain Dock was named.

The origin of the name Bevington Street is interesting. When looking for this street on the 1895 OS map, whilst the street is there, in 1895 is was named Princes Road. It had changed to the current name sometime between 1895 and the 1940 map.

Although I have not been able to find any written confirmation of this, I suspect the name change may have been in the first decade of the 20th century. Bevington probably refers to Colonel Samuel Bourne Bevington. 

When Bermondsey Borough Council was formed in 1900, Samuel Bevington was the first mayor and he was reelected the following year. He came from the family that had established  Bevington and Sons, a company that manufactured leather products at Neckinger Mills in Abbey Street, Bermondsey. He was also a Colonel of the West Surrey Regiment, Justice of the Peace, on school boards and coming from a Quaker background, used family money to support a number of philanthropic activities.

Samuel Bourne Bevington died on the 14th April 1907 leaving a considerable estate to the value of £133,195. His will included money to provide income for four men and four women over the age of 60 who had been engaged in the leather trade.

Because of his role in the leather trade in Bermondsey, that he was the first mayor of Bermondsey Borough Council, and his other activities, I suspect that after his death, the council looked at ways to commemorate him, and one of the ways within their power was to rename one of the local streets, so Princes Road became Bevington Street.

There is much else of interest to be seen from the junction of Bevington Street and Bermondsey Wall.

A very short distance to the east along Bermondsey Wall is a rather unique, listed pub – the Old Justice.

Bermondsey Wall

The pub, as with so many London pubs, has closed, however the building is Grade II listed.

The reason for the listing is that the pub is a rather well preserved example of a style of pub design from the inter-war period. The majority of Victorian London pubs were small and focused on drinking. The design initiatives after the First World War, focused on improving the pub environment, the provision of space for other activities apart from basic drinking, for example with the provision of restaurant space and a function room.

The Old Justice was designed by Sidney C Clark in 1933 for the Hoare & Co brewery. It followed a mock Tudor design that was frequently used on many pubs of the period.

Hoare & Co were taken over by Charringtons and the pub has a pair of Charrington lanterns on the frount, these probably date from the 1960s.

Bermondsey Wall

Alongside one of the lanterns is a plaque recording that Sir Paul McCartney used interiors and exteriors of the Old Justice as locations in his film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” and in the music video to “No More Lonely Nights”.

As well as the pub, the film also has some fascinating shots of the front of the warehouses along the Thames in Bermondsey.

I looked in through the windows of the Old Justice and the interior looks to have been reasonably well gutted, although the wooden paneling remains on the walls and the fireplace is still intact.

The Old Justice is just to the east of the junction of Bevington Street and Bermondsey Wall. To the west is another building that is earlier than the majority of buildings in the area. This is Fountain House:

Bermondsey Wall

I am not sure when Fountain House was constructed, or whether the name is original. however it did feature in another of my father’s photos of Bermondsey. I have now been able to identify the following photo as having been taken in Loftie Street, which runs parallel to part of Bevington Street.

Bermondsey Wall

The rear of Fountain House is on the left of the photo, but what confirmed the location was the rear of the electrical substation building that was one of the surviving features in the photo of Bevington Street. The rear of this building can be seen in the above photo, to the right of Fountain House.

The houses are the rear of the houses that front onto Bevington Street. Washing is hanging to dry at the rear of one house, and I am fascinated by the height of the chimneys on these houses.

What must be the remains of a bomb site is to the front of the photo.

I tried to take a photo from a similar position today, but it was not easy with the buildings and fences that now occupy the area, however in the following photo, the rear of Fountain House can be seen, and just to the right, a small part of the top of the rear wall of the electrical substation building is just visible.

Bermondsey Wall

There was one additional place I wanted to track down. When I was looking for Flockton Street, I walked along George Row, which runs parallel to the original route of Flockton Street. The name George Row was familiar and I recently remembered where I had seen the name.

In 1926 a three volume set of photos and articles titled “Wonderful London” was published and the first main photo in volume 3 was titled “The Bridge House In George Row, Bermondsey”.

Bermondsey Wall

The caption with the above photo read:

“Bermondsey has had its royal palace dating perhaps from Edward the Confessor, and it was only in 1805 that the North Gate of its Abbey was taken down. The building in the photograph is called the Bridge House, since it stands where a bridge was built over one of the creeks that entered the river and made, with what is called St. Saviour’s Dock, Jacob’s Island. This was a densely populated quarter a hundred years ago, and its many canals and ditches had a Dutch air, according to the chroniclers”.

George Row today is a wide street that runs from Jamaica Road down to Bermondsey Wall. There are no buildings that look like the above photo and I was doubtful that I could find the location, however I turned to the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, and at the northern end of George Row, close to the junction with Bermondsey Wall, there is a building clearly labelled Bridge House. The map also shows the steps leading down from the building with what appear to be steps leading down from the building on the eastern side and sidesteps on the western side. This would confirm that the photo from Wonderful London was taken of the eastern face of the building.

Bermondsey Wall

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

It was easy now to find the location of Bridge House, the map overlay feature helped confirm exactly where to look. Bridge House was not directly on George Row. In the above map there is a space, which appears to be open space between the building and street, and this configuration remains today.

The following photo shows the location of Bridge House today, with a 4 storey block of flats – Providence Square – now standing in what appears to be almost the same footprint of Bridge House.

Bermondsey Wall

It would be interesting to know why the new building did not extend to George Row. Developers tend to maximise the amount they can build and make use of every available bit of space and the area between the building and George Row serves no apparent purpose.

I walked up to the edge of the building to take a photo from roughly the same position as the photo from Wonderful London.

Bermondsey Wall

The caption to the photograph in Wonderful London explains the source of the original name for the building: “The building in the photograph is called the Bridge House, since it stands where a bridge was built over one of the creeks that entered the river and made, with what is called St. Saviour’s Dock, Jacob’s Island”.

There are no signs of the creek today, however maps provide some indications.

In the 1895 Ordnance Survey map the word Neckinger can be seen running alongside George Row. This refers to the River Neckinger. I have read many different accounts of where the Neckinger entered the River Thames, most claim that St. Saviour’s Dock was the main estuary of the Neckinger into the Thames, however this was always low lying marsh land, and there have been many canals and ditches built in this area (I mentioned the 19th century walled drain in my post on Flockton Street, and the outline of this drain can still be seen running across the street).

The book “Bermondsey, Its Historic Memories And Associations” written by E.T. Clarke and published in 1902 provides a location for the creek and bridge. The book includes the following map of the area.

Bermondsey Wall

The so called Jacob’s Island is in the centre of the map, bounded by the Thames at the bottom of the map, St. Saviours Dock to the right, a canal running alongside London Street to the top, and on the left, a canal running along the full length of George Row.

Based on the locations of streets that can still be found today, I have circled in red the bridge that gave Bridge House its name.

This is pure speculation, but it may be that Bridge House is the rectangular building on the above map to the lower right of the red circle.

I do not know when this canal or extension of the Neckinger was filled in – it had disappeared by the time of the 1895 map, but it is interesting that the open space between George Row and the building that now occupies the location of Bridge House would have been where the canal ran.

Finding the location of Bridge House helps to understand how this area has developed over the centuries. Fountain Green Square provides a link to the dry dock that once occupied the site, and Bevington Street records the first mayor of Bermondsey and the leather industry of area.

Finding Bevington Street means I can tick off another of my father’s photos from 70 years ago. My thanks again to everyone who identified the correct location of the photo.

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The Angel Rotherhithe

There are many good reasons for a walk along the River Thames, east from Tower Bridge to Rotherhithe. Views over the river, the historic streets, historic architecture and a number of excellent pubs. One of which is the subject of this week’s post – The Angel Rotherhithe.

My father took the following photo of the pub from the foreshore of the river in 1951:

Angel Rotherhithe

I have been meaning to take a photo of the same view for a couple of years, however my previous walks here have been when the tide has not been low enough, or last year when the tide was low, but the pub had scaffolding around the building.

I was lucky on my recent visit as the tide was low, building work had finished and after some early morning rain, the weather was improving. This is the same view of the Angel Rotherhithe in 2018 from the foreshore of the River Thames:

Angel Rotherhithe

The pub looks much the same despite the 67 years between the two photos. Cosmetic changes, and I suspect some of the woodwork has been replaced.

There is one aspect of my father’s original photo that is a mystery. If you look along the balcony facing the river, there is a wooden panel with what appears to be two badges. I have zoomed in on the original negative scan and I cannot make out what they are. I have enlarged and cropped these out to show in the photo below:

Angel Rotherhithe

They both look to have some form of cross. The lower with a darker cross is a bit more clear than the one above. I do not know if the lower badge is that of the City of London.

They are on the balcony facing the river, so I suspect have some relevance to the working river. I would really appreciate any information as to what these symbols may mean.

There is easy access to the foreshore here, there are stairs just to the right side of the pub in the above photo, these are the Rotherhithe Stairs with a better view in the photo below:

Angel Rotherhithe

A short distance along the river to the east are another set of stairs, the stairs I used to walk down to the foreshore, shown in the photo below. These are the modern replacement for the King’s Stairs. One of the many sets of stairs that used to exist down to the river.

Angel Rotherhithe

From the foreshore it is possible to appreciate the tidal range of the River Thames. The green algae on the walls show the normal tidal range, with occasional high tides reaching further up the wall.

The King’s Stair’s and Rotherhithe Stair’s have been providing access to the river for many centuries. They were both shown on the 1746 Rocque map of London, although the Rotherhithe Stair’s were recorded as Redriff Stair’s (one of the earlier names for Rotherhithe).

Angel Rotherhithe

I suspect that the wooden posts supporting the balcony of the pub have been replaced since my father’s photo. The remains of the angled post shown in the 1951 photo can still be seen, the top part of the post showing considerable signs of decay. The posts also look as if the upper parts have been renewed but the lower section is older. The upper parts are smoother than the lower and they appear of different age.

Angel Rotherhithe

The Angel Rotherhithe is a wonderful early 19th century pub. Grade II listed and dating from the 1830s. The listing states that the building potentially includes material from a 17th century building that occupied the same position.  The entrance is on the westerly facing corner of the building, adjacent to the stairs leading down to the river.

Angel Rotherhithe

Over the years the pub has served the many, varied functions of a public house, over and above selling alcohol. It has hosted inquests, been the meeting place of clubs and societies, sales have taken place and the pub has been used as a contact address. Customers have occasionally attempted fraud (a common method appears to be demanding change when not originally having handed over any note or coin), along with the time in 1845 when the landlady was charged with allowing drinking in the Angel at 11 in the morning on a Sunday.

The Angel has open space on either side of the pub building. Space once occupied by the many working buildings along the river, but today transformed into a space to admire the full sweep of the Thames.

To the west of the Angel, a cat sits on the river wall.

Angel Rotherhithe

The cat is part of a group of figures by the sculptor Diane Gorvin titled “Dr Salter’s Daydream”.

Angel Rotherhithe

The Salter’s were a family who had a considerable impact on the lives of those living in Bermondsey.

Ada Brown was born in 1866 and moved to Bermondsey to work in the slums in one of the Settlements established across London. Alfred Salter was a student at Guy’s Hospital when he met Ada at the Bermindsey Settlement.

They married in 1900 and lived in Bermondsey. Both Ada and Alfred worked tirelessly to improve conditions in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

Ada became a Labour councilor, the first woman councilor in Bermondsey in 1909 and set about recruiting women workers to trade unions to organise against the terrible working conditions in the area’s factories.

Alfred was elected MP for Bermondsey in 1909, the same year as Ada was elected Mayor.

Health for those living in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe was not good. Tuberculosis was rife and average life expectancy was at the low end of what could be expected across the whole of London.

Long before the NHS they promoted free medical treatment and education on how hygiene could improve health and prevent disease.

These initiatives resulted in the death rate being reduced from 16.7 per 1,000 down to 12.9 per 1,000 of population in the five years following 1922.

Alfred worked on slum clearance programes whilst Ada focused on how the appearance of an area could improve living conditions, initiatives such as tree planting, public gardens and flower planting.

Ada died in 1942 and Alfred three years later in 1945. The group of statues next to the Angel reveal a tragedy in the lives of the Salter’s. The third statue, up against the river wall is that of a young girl. This is Joyce, their only child who died from scarlet fever in 1920, aged 8.

The title of the group is “Dr. Salter’s Daydream” and represents Alfred in his old age, dreaming of happier times with his wife Ada, their daughter Joyce and her cat.

I am not sure what Alfred would have thought with the statues being located next to the Angel pub as newspaper reports of his death included:

“An advocate of total abstinence, Dr. Salter once declared that he had seen many M.P.s drunk in the House and added that no party was exempt from that failing. He refused to withdraw the statement, and later spoke of Labour Members who ‘soak themselves until they are stupid’. Clergymen and ministers who drank in moderation, he declared, were worse enemies to the temperance cause than clergymen who were drunkards.”

He was also a pacifist. In coverage of local elections in 1907, the London Daily News reported that:

“Bermondsey’s other Councillor, Dr. Cooper, was also elected to Parliament last year. He immediately resigned from the L.C.C. and the seat was retained by Dr. Alfred Salter, who is again before the electors. Dr. Salter is a Quaker and life abstainer, and has resided at the Bermondsey Settlement for several years. He got his municipal training on the Bermondsey Borough Council. As a Passive Resister he has been to prison nine times.”

Dr. Alfred Salter in 1907:

Angel Rotherhithe

The open space next to the Angel provides some wonderful views of the river. Starting with the westerly view towards the City and Tower Bridge:

Angel Rotherhithe

Directly across the river to Wapping:

Angel Rotherhithe

Looking east along the river towards Shadwell:

Angel Rotherhithe

Three years before my father took the photo of the Angel at the top of the post, he took a river trip from Westminster to Greenwich and took photos along the way. The following photo shows the Angel in August 1948.

Angel Rotherhithe

Barges fill the river and large warehouses fill the space to the right of the Angel.

The large, flat roof warehouse was relatively recent. This was a bonded tobacco warehouse built in the 1930s in place of a previous 1907 warehouse (which was probably in place of earlier warehouses).

The LMA Collage archive includes a photo from 1956 of the Angle and the large, 1930s warehouse:

Angel Rotherhithe

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_040_81_9834

Surprisingly, given the size of the warehouse building, the remains of a much earlier building survived underneath. Much of the space that was occupied by the warehouse is now a large grassed space just to the south west of the Angel. There are the remains of some walls visible above the grass, the remains of King Edward III’s Manor House.

Angel Rotherhithe

Edward III reigned for a surprising long 50 years (for the fourteenth century) from 1327 to 1377. The manor house was constructed on a low lying island when much of the land here was still marsh.

The manor house consisted of a central open courtyard surrounded by buildings with a moat around three sides. The fourth side was open to the River Thames as the land on which Bermondsey Wall now runs had not yet been reclaimed.

There is no written record of why Edward III had a manor house in what must have been a rather damp and isolated place in the 14th century. The information panel states that there is documentary reference to the housing of the king’s falcons ‘in the chamber’ so perhaps it was the isolation and marshy land that provided the perfect place for falconry, at a location easy to access from the river and not far from the City.

The growth of industry eastwards from the City resulted in construction of embankments and walls along the river which cut off the house from the river by the end of the 16th century. The buildings were sold and used for a variety of purposes, before being integrated within the expanding warehouses along the river in the 18th and 19th century.

Some of the walls were still standing at the start of the 20th century when they were part of a 1907 warehouse.

The walls that remain above the current ground level may not look all that impressive (although to me, finding 14th century remains in Rotherhithe is impressive), however much of what was found when the site was excavated in the 1980s was buried for protection.

The buried southern wall includes the remains of what may have been a staircase. The manor house extended beyond the grassed area to include the houses that can be seen to the south and three medieval stone lined cesspits were found during excavations and preserved under these houses.

Excavations also identified a possible late Bronze Age ditch, two Roman pits and additional medieval features, so perhaps this area close the river was reasonably dry and attracted people to build, live and work here for many centuries.

The view from the opposite corner to the above photo, looking back over the remains of the manor house towards the Angel Rotherhithe.

Angel Rotherhithe

This is a fascinating area. Within such a small area there are two historic stairs down to the river, a group of statues commemorating a couple that did much to improve the conditions of the people of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, as well as the grief they must have felt in the loss of their only child, along with the remains of a 14th century Manor House.

Angel Rotherhithe

The Angel Rotherhithe is also one of my favourite places to stand with a pint on a sunny day and watch the Thames flowing past.

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Curious Battersea

Curious London was the title of a small book published in 1951 by Hugh Pearman. The author was a London Taxi Driver and in the book there are two pages for each of the “twenty-nine boroughs and cities that make up the county of London”. I have already hunted down the Southwark sites from the book, and for this week’s post I went on a walk to find the six locations Pearman covered in the book for Curious Battersea.

I have shown the locations on the map below. They are numbered differently to the order in which they appear in the book. I started at Clapham Junction and walked to Battersea Power Station and changed the site ordering to better fit my walk.

Curious Battersea

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

The first location was a problem before I set out on the walk. At the time little did I know it was not so far from Clapham Junction Station.

Site 1 – “Down by the railway tracks, hemmed in by streets of little houses, is this caravan encampment. Some of the dwellers in the old vans claim to be of pure Romany stock. Their ancestors came, so they say, year after year in the long ago when all around was Surrey countryside”.

This was Pearman’s caption to the photo below:

Curious Battersea

I failed to find the possible location of Pearman’s photo before walking the area. There are no clues in Pearman’s book. I have subsequently found a possible location as Sheepcote Lane which I have marked as point 1 on the map.

One side of Sheepcote Lane is of terrace housing and on the other side of the street is a grassed area between the road and the railway tracks, so as Pearman describes as being “down by the railway tracks” this could be the location.

I found the reference to Sheepcote Lane in a presentation by Dr. David M Smith of the University of Greenwich titled Gypsies and Travelers in Housing: adaptation, resistance and the reformulation of communities., which refers to Sheepcote Lane being occupied in the 50s, which is the same time period as Pearman’s book.

I will need to return to photograph the street and update this post.

The first location that I could identify in Curious Battersea was a walk from Clapham Junction station down to Battersea High Street to find:

Site 2 – “In the High Street is this 17th century bow-windowed inn, the ‘castle’, a picturesque reminder of coaching days.”

Curious Battersea

A pub has been on the site since the very early 17th century. Pearman’s text claims that the building in his photo is the 17th century Inn, however I am not sure that all the features are from the original pub. Features such as the bow window may have been retained, but the facade does look of later construction.

There is what appears to be a large crest on the front of the pub, facing the camera. The small photo in the book does not provide any detail on the crest.

The pub did not last for too many years after Pearman’s book. It was demolished in the 1960s along with the buildings to the left and right of the pub. New flats were built to the left and a new pub (retaining the Castle name) was constructed on part of the site of the original Castle and slightly to the right.

This 1960’s Castle pub was demolished in 2013 and the site is now occupied by flats:

Curious Battersea

Checking the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, the Castle as photographed by Pearman was mainly on the site of the new flats, but also on part of the 1960s flats to the left in the photo below.

Curious Battersea

I was not aware that it was there, but found after walking the area, that the 1965 plaque from the 1960s pub is on the wall of the new flats – the wall that faces onto the open space on the ground floor on the 1960s flats to the left. The plaque records that the original Castle was built circa 1600 and rebuilt in 1965. The plaque also records that in 1600, mild ale was 4 shillings a barrel (equivalent to 1/4 d (old pence) a pint) and in 1965 was 1 shilling and 5 pence a pint.

Another reason to return to Battersea and photograph the plaque.

The London Metropolitan Archives, Collage site has a photo of the Castle in 1961, just a few years before demolition.

Curious Battersea

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0965_62_255

Although I missed the 1965 Castle plaque, I did find some other interesting features in Battersea High Street.

This three storey building is occupied by the Katherine Low Settlement.

Curious Battersea

The plaque on the first floor records the Cedars Club, founded in 1882 and rebuilt in 1905, whilst the blue plaque to lower left records Katherine Mackay Low, 1855 to 1923, a philanthropist in whose memory the settlement was founded on the 17th May 1924.

Katherine Mackay Low was born in Georgia in the USA to British parents. When her mother died in 1863 her father returned with his family back to UK, and when he died, Katherine settled in London. Her father was a merchant and banker so her inheritance was probably the source of her independence and philanthropy.

The land occupied by the Katherine Low Settlement was originally part of the grounds of the vicarage of the Vicar of Battersea (the large building, part of which can just be seen to the left of the above photo). The railway cut through the grounds of the vicarage in 1860 and due to this disruption the vicar moved out of the house.

In 1872 the old vicarage building was occupied by a settlement established by two Cambridge colleges. The purpose of the settlement was the support of the poor in the area, which was much needed in this area of Battersea in the latter decades of the 19th century.

The Cambridge colleges settlement established the Cedars as a boys club and mission and in 1905 the three storey building was constructed between the old vicarage and Orville Road.

Katherine Mackay Low died in 1923 and funds were raised to create a legacy in her name. The Cedars building was purchased and the Katherine Low Settlement was established.

The Settlement continues to this day, in the same building as a local community charity.

Whilst researching these posts, I stumble on events of which I was completely unaware. Searching newspapers for the Katherine Low Settlement, there was one date when many newspapers mentioned the settlement, but it was through a disaster rather then the works of the settlement. The first in-flight fire of a passenger flight. From multiple newspapers on the 4th October 1926:

“One of the worst disasters in the history of the Paris-London air lines occurred on Saturday afternoon near Tonbridge, Kent. A big French four-engine Bleriot plane from Le Bourget aerodrome was seen to be in difficulties, and flames were observed coming from the rear. Slowly the great machine turned turtle, and then fell like a stone into a field. Farm workers ran to render help, but so fierce was the heat that no one could approach it, and every soul on board perished.

Mr. J.H. Webb, a butler at an adjoining house, the first man on the scene, said ‘I was in the pantry when I heard the noise of an aeroplane passing overhead. As I looked through the window I saw the machine suddenly burst into flames and nose-dive to the ground. I shouted for assistance and, with some of my fellow-servants, rushed to the spot. Through the roaring flames I saw the terrified features of a woman passenger. We made an attempt to get to the woman’s assistance, but before we could approach her she was totally obscured by flames and smoke. The moment I saw my chance, however, i did succeed in dragging out a lady wearing a silk dress, but I was too late. She was very badly burned and quite dead.'”

The Settlement and Battersea connection comes when the article lists the casualties of the crash, one of whom was Miss Gertrude P. Hall, aged 43 of The Katherine Low Settlement, High-street, Battersea who was described as “a lady of independent means who devoted herself to philanthropic work.” 

Gertrude Hall must have been one of those who contributed to the founding of the Katherine Low Settlement just a few years earlier.

I walked further along Battersea High Street and although the Castle has been lost, there is still a pub in the street. This is the rather excellent, mid 19th century pub, The Woodman.

Curious Battersea

Further along Battersea High Street is the building constructed for the Sir Walter St. John’s School:

Curious Battersea

Sir Walter St. John of Battersea founded a charity in 1700 for the education of poor boys of the parish. The school expanded over the years with increasing number of boys and the inclusion of girls.

The enlarged school was constructed in 1859 and the school underwent various rebuilds, modifications and upgrades over the following years.

The school became a grammar school after the war, however in the following years the school went through various changes where pupils were integrated with other schools, classes moved and eventually, with a falling local birthrate, the school was closed in 1986.

The buildings were purchased in 1990 by Thomas’s London Day School, one of a group of Thomas’s independent schools within London.

I do not know whether it was due to the growth in numbers, or the desire to separate boys and girls, however in the 1850s the girls from the school were moved to Mrs Champion’s School, and the buildings of this school can still be found in nearby Vicarage Crescent:

Curious Battersea

A plaque on the building:

Curious Battersea

The plaque reads (hopefully read correctly, rather difficult as part of the inscription was hidden by vegetation):

“National School for Girls and Infants. These buildings were erected by Miss Champion on land granted by Earl Spencer and opened April 10th 1855 for the education of the children of the poor on scriptural principles. This tablet is placed by order of the parishioners in the Vestry assembled in grateful remembrance of her munificent charities to the Parish of Battersea.”

To find this school building I had doubled back along Battersea High Street to Vicarage Crescent, but I was still on the correct route as my next location in Curious Battersea was a short distance further along the street.

Site 3 – A different sort of dwelling is this one in Vicarage Crescent that also seems strangely out of place in present-day Battersea. It was designed by Wren and has carvings by Grinling Gibbons. Although the home of a private family, this house, one of the finest in South London, is at certain times open to the public and is well worth a visit.

Curious Battersea

This is Grade II listed Old Battersea House. The house is set behind a high wall and faces the River Thames across Vicarage Crescent and the grassed area directly in front of the river.

I photographed the house from beside the river, looking across Vicarage Crescent.

Curious Battersea

Pearman’s photo appears to be taken from the side, probably as with my photo it is not an easy house to photograph from the front. The original photo also appears to show a building on the side of Old Battersea House, between the house and the small side road that leads to the estate at the rear.

This extension is not there today, with just what I assume to be the original Old Battersea House as shown in the photo below (with a bright sun shining directly into the camera).

Curious Battersea

The house was originally called Terrace House. It became derelict in the late 1960s and restored in the 1970s – it was perhaps then when the extension photographed by Pearman was removed.

If you have a spare £10 million, the house is currently for sale.

Between Vicarage Crescent and the River Thames opposite Old Battersea House, there is a small grassed area, where this lovely sign can be found.

Curious Battersea

I do not know when these signs date from, but there are still a few to be found. I like the depiction of the river at the bottom of the sign with the Thames sailing barge on the right – signs should be more like this, graphical and including a symbol of their subject.

To get to the next location in Curious Battersea, I continued east along Vicarage Crescent, along Battersea Church Road to:

Site 4 – By the river is this parish church of St. Mary’s, a church full of memories. Here are a few of the famous names with which it is connected :- William Blake, poet, artist and mystic, here married his wife Katherine: from the upper vestry window Turner painted his glorious sunsets. The great Wilberforce, whose house was in the parish boundaries was a frequent visitor to the church. Buried in the crypt are the remains of that infamous “turncoat” General Benedict Arnold who tried to betray his comrade-in-arms, George Washington to the British.

Curious Battersea

St. Mary’s is a lovely church, facing at a slight angle onto the river, the church has always struck me as being perfectly in proportion to its surroundings. The lighting was perfect as I walked towards the church along Battersea Church Road, where the church suddenly comes into view after a bend in the road.

Curious Battersea

At the church gates. The church sits on a slightly raise plateau of land as can be seen in the following view.

Curious Battersea

The current St. Mary’s Battersea was built between 1775 and 1777 to a design by the architect Joseph Dixon. As with so many other London churches, the location had already been the site for a church, possibly as far back as the 9th century.

Although the church today dates from the 18th century, it was repaired and reconstructed in 1878 and 1938 with later additional repairs.

The church is deservedly Grade I listed.

I had planned to look inside the church, however on the day of my visit there appeared to be a function in the church with a number of cars parked in front – another in the growing number of reasons to re-visit Battersea.

The front of the church with the encroaching towers of flats expanding along the Thames in the rear.

Curious Battersea

The next location was in Battersea Park which was the perfect excuse for a walk along the river.

The view from the southern side of the river, the shell of the old Lotts Road Power Station stands out, one of the original Chelsea Wharf buildings on the right and yet another glass tower dwarfing its surroundings on the left.

Curious Battersea

The light was perfect for the Albert Bridge:

Curious Battersea

On reaching Battersea Park, I walked to the next destination in Curious Battersea:

Site 5 – In the days when this borough still had a countrified air, this old wooden hut was the pavilion of the town cricket club. It is in Battersea Park near where it is said the “Iron Duke” fought a duel with Lord Winchelsea.

Curious Battersea

It is still possible to feel a “countrified air” in parts of Battersea Park today, as this carefully framed view of the pavilion today demonstrates.

Curious Battersea

I have no idea if the current cricket pavilion is in the same position as the one in Pearman’s photo, however the pavilion has been considerably upgraded since 1951.

Pearman mentions a duel between the Iron Duke and Lord Winchelsea. The Iron Duke was the Duke of Wellington who at the time of the duel (March 1829) was Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland.

The cause of the duel appears to have been the Catholic Relief Bill passed by Wellington’s government. The aim of the bill was to provide greater Catholic emancipation and the possibility of Catholics becoming members of Parliament.

Although Wellington was not a Catholic, fears of rebellion in the country appears to have influenced his decision to support the bill, however he was fiercely opposed by the staunch Protestant, the Earl of Winchelsea. In his opposition to the bill the Earl of Winchelsea appears to have accused the Duke of Wellington of allowing Popery to become part of the State.

Wellington challenged Winchelsea to a duel, which then took place at Battersea.

The duel appears to have been rather a strange affair, more about maintaining gentlemanly honour rather then attempting to kill or wound. Newspaper reports on the 27th March 1829 carried lengthy reports of the build up to, and the actual dual:

“Lord Winchilsea, it appeared, was aware that he had treated the Duke unfairly, and that an apology was due from him, but he considered that as a man of honour, it was ungentlemanly to do an act of injustice, until he had compelled his Grace to adopt a measure which might cause the death of Lord Winchilsea, to be produced by an act of the Duke’s. However monstrous the system may appear in theory, it is considered the very perfection of honour, and the Duke of Wellington was forced to discharge his pistol at Lord Winchilsea. The ball fortunately did no mischief, and then his Lordship tendered such an explanation as was deemed satisfactory, and which was prepared to be presented , in case the affair had terminated fatally to Lord Winchilsea. The latter nobleman was conscious that he had injured the Duke, and had determined therefore, not to return his fire.”

Both parties maintained their honour, and no one was wounded or injured. I suspect that both parties were also concerned that if the Duke had been killed, political chaos would have ensued and if Winchilsea had been killed he would have become a martyr to the Protestant cause.

There does not appear to be any monument or plaque to the duel in Battersea Park, however on the Cricket Pavilion there is a plaque recording another 19th century event:

Curious Battersea

Prior to 1864 the game of football did not have a consistent set of rules to manage the game. There was pressure to develop rules that would apply to all games and in October 1863 the Football Association was formed, who then went on to draw up the 13 rules of Association Football.

To demonstrate the new rules a game was organised on the 9th January 1864 in Battersea Park between two teams led by the FA President and the FA Secretary. The President’s team won 2-0.

Leaving Battersea Park, I then headed to the final location of Curious Battersea:

Site 6 – Not all of interest in Battersea is of the past, as witness this huge ‘Wellsian’ river-side power station. It is one of the largest in the world, and at night, when it is flood lit, has an unearthly sort of beauty.

Curious Battersea

When Hugh Pearman wrote Curious London in 1951, Battersea Power Station was becoming the largest provider of power to London. Half of the station (the A station) had been completed in the 1930s and construction of the B station started after the war, with the station coming on stream between 1953 and 1955.

In Pearman’s Curious Battersea, the power station was therefore the peak of modernity. Powering London into the future and “at night, when it is flood-lit, has an unearthly sort of beauty”.

Change is continuous and what had at the time been the most thermally efficient power station in the country eventually lost that efficiency. Generation was moving more towards gas and nuclear rather than coal and power stations were moving out of central London down towards the Thames estuary.

Battersea Power Station ceased operation in 1983, and since has been reduced to the outer walls, through many different schemes and ownership and is now finally being rebuilt.

The turbine halls will consist of shops, restaurants, cafes and cinemas and offices will occupy the boiler house.

Pearman’s photo was from across the river, however I wanted to take a look close up.

After walking under the rail tracks that run across the river into Victoria Station, the first of the new apartment blocks that will almost enclose the old power station is on the right. This follows the standard design seen all across London of apartments above and restaurants, bars and cafes on the ground floor.

The old power station with its rebuilt chimneys is still a major construction site with cranes rising above the building.

Curious Battersea

I am not sure what Hugh Pearman would think of what is happening to Battersea Power Station today. In 1951 it was supporting the growth in post-war electricity consumption across the city. Today the site is mirroring so many other developments across London and whether the old power station retains any historical significance among the glass and steel apartment towers and the commercialisation of semi-public space remains to be seen.

As usual, I feel I am just scratching the surface of the history of the streets I have walked, but again I am grateful to Hugh Pearman for providing another fascinating route through London to discover more about Curious Battersea.

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Rugby Street, French’s Dairy And Emerald Court

I have written about a couple of corner shops during the last few months, and for today’s post it is another shop, but this one in the middle of a terrace. This is French’s Dairy in Rugby Street.

Rugby Street

The above photo was taken in 1986 when the shop sold general dairy products as well as other daily essentials. The store closed in the 1990s and for the last few years has been the shop of designer Maggie Owen.

Rugby Street

The shop front looks much the same as it did 32 years ago, apart from the name change. The plaque recording the building as the location for part of the White Conduit is still on the shop front.

Rugby Street

I did ask in the shop if there is any visible evidence and I had much the same response as London Remembers – that the remains of the conduit are below the floor and cannot be seen.

As the plaque informs, the conduit provided water from what was the countryside around the city to the Greyfriars Monastery. The remains under the shop were apparently discovered in 1907 and consisted of a stone chamber and tank with an arched roof of chalk.

I find it fascinating looking back at the displays in these old shop windows. The pile of milk crates in front of the shop is a sight you would not see today. The shop windows always seem to consist of a random display of products, and in 1986 French’s Dairy had on display a rather large tin of Nescafe Instant Coffee, several boxes of Cheeselets, Mr Kipling Cakes, Fudge, Uncle Ben’s rice and Quick Macaroni.

Rugby Street

Rugby Street is north of Holborn, just north of Theobalds Road and was built as part of the early 18th century expansion of London. The southern side of the street consists of a lovely terrace of period houses, many, as with French’s Dairys, with later shop fronts.

A short distance along from the old French’s Dairy is another shop. This is the shop and workshop of Susannah Hunter, a designer and manufacturer of rather expensive leather handbags. Originally this building housed a pub and on the right is a rather narrow alley

Rugby Street

This is Emerald Court and is one of narrowest alleys, if not the narrowest in London. I had already prepared for visiting Rugby Street by bringing with me a tape measure (yes, I know – taking this a bit too seriously), and the width of the entrance onto Rugby Street is about 68 centimeters wide. Not sure if it is the narrowest in London but 68 cm is not that wide.

Rugby Street

Walk through the alley and this is the view back towards Rugby Street.

Rugby Street

Emerald Court opens out into Emerald Street, a street of mixed architectural styles, but generally later than the early 18th century buildings of Rugby Street. Emerald Street runs all the way down to Theobalds Road.

Rugby Street

I mentioned earlier in the post that Rugby Street was built as part of the early 18th century, northern expansion of London and a look at John Rocque’s map of London in 1746 shows this perfectly.

Rugby Street

I have ringed the location of Rugby Street and a very short distance to the north is the Foundling Hospital surrounded by fields. The road on the right heading north through the fields is Grays Inn Road.

As with so many London streets, these have undergone some name changes. In 1746 Rugby Street was named Chaple Street after St. John’s Chapel which had been built on the north east corner of the street. The map below provides a detailed view of the area.

Rugby Street

Chapel Street (Rugby Street) has the chapel on the corner, this was demolished in the later part of the 19th century. Chapel Street was renamed Rugby Street in the 1930s. Emerald Court is an original feature having been in existence in 1746. Emerald Street was originally named Grange Street so perhaps Emerald Court was Grange Court, however the name change from Grange to Emerald pre-dates the name change of Chapel Street as in the 1895 Ordnance Survey map the names Chapel and Emerald are in use.

There is also a newspaper reference to the two locations in the Islington Gazette on the 18th July 1900:

“ALLEGED TILL ROBBERY. Frederick Lane, a news-boy, was charged before Mr. Marsham, at Bow-street Police-court with theft. It was alleged that the prisoner stole a till bowl containing 7s from a general shop in Chapel-street, kept by Mrs. Eliza Green. A constable in plain clothes who saw what had happened gave chase, and apprehended the prisoner on the stairs of a house in Emerald-court. The prisoner was remanded.”

In the maps above, as well as the narrow alley running up from what was Grange Street to Chapel Street, there was also an alley running west from the end of Grange Street to what was Red Lyon Street (now Lambs Conduit Street – nearly all the street names in the area have changed over the last few centuries). This alley can still be found, as shown in the following photo a narrow alley leading from what was the end of Grange Street (now Emerald Street) to what was Red Lyon Street (now Lambs Conduit Street):

I have been building a spreadsheet of London street name changes for my own reference as there are so many, I will upload to the blog sometime.

The map extract below shows the area today with the street layout very similar to that of 1746. Emerald Court is the dotted red line leading up from Emerald Street.

Rugby Street

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

Although the name change from Chapel Street to Rugby Street is relatively recent, it does have significance to the history of the area.

Prior to the start of building in this part of London, much of the land was held by various estates. I have already written about the nearby Bedford Estate, and the land around Rugby Street and Emerald Court was part of a bequest by Lawrence Sheriff, a London grocer who was originally from the town of Rugby.

In 1567 Lawrence Sheriff’s bequest enabled the building of a school and almshouses in Rugby – the school now known as Rugby School. As well as Rugby Street, the bequest included the land now occupied by Lambs Conduit Street, Millman Street and part of Great Ormond Street.

The estate remained intact for centuries however the 1970s were a difficult time for the estate (as it was for so much 18th century housing in London) with many of the buildings falling into disrepair and low rents unable to fund the significant repair and reconstruction costs. A number of properties in Great Ormond Street and Millman Street were sold to Camden Council, however much of the estate remained with Rugby School, centered around Lambs Conduit Street.

The rental from the houses, shops and pubs on these streets is still going towards Rugby School as Lawrence Sheriff intended 450 years ago. His name is also on the Rugby grant maintained Lawrence Sheriff School which receives a percentage of the rental income.

This is the view looking down Rugby Street from Lambs Conduit Street:

Rugby Street

There is a plaque on the corner building on the right. The plaque records the bequest of the land which enabled the founding of Rugby School. It was unveiled on the 28th April 2017 to commemorate the 450 year anniversary of the founding of Rugby School, which would not have been possible without this area of land in London.

Rugby Street

The Rugby name appears in a number of other places. At the eastern end of Rugby Street is The Rugby Tavern which dates back to 1850.

Rugby Street

These estates would frequently have boundary markers to show which streets belonged within the estates so I had a walk round to see if I could find any. I will map all these in a future post, however here is one on the corner of this terrace in Millman Street.

Rugby Street

Close up of the boundary marker in the photo below. Although the estate is much older, the boundary marker is dated 1888 as markers would be frequently renewed during periodic boundary checks and as new houses were constructed.

Rugby Street

The photo of French’s Dairy (the reason for visiting Rugby Street) only dates from 1986. Thirty two years is trivial in the 450 years of the Rugby Estate, but to me it seems a lifetime ago. Back in 1986 I was driving a leaky Triumph Spitfire (leaking water in from the soft top, and oil from the engine). I was taking photos on film with digital photography in the distant future, and probably listening to The Damned, Level 42 and the B-52s on cassettes in the car.

I will re-visit the Rugby Estate, and also have a target to map out all the estates in this part of London so I will be walking these streets again.

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Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

Today, Remembrance Sunday, the focus will quite rightly be on the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War. 1918 was the end of what was hoped to be the “war to end all wars”, however in just over 20 years time, the world would descend into yet another global conflict.

The Second World War would add to the cemeteries created for the victims of the first war and during my visit to the Netherlands this year I went to the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, a place that my father had already photographed during his visit to the Netherlands in 1952, not long after the cemetery had been created for the dead of Operation Market Garden and other  conflict in this part of the Netherlands.

In 1952, this was the sign at the entrance to the cemetery:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The entrance to the cemetery today:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The following photo provides some indication of the size of the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. A central grassed space runs down to a cross at the far end. On either side there are row upon row of gravestones, each representing a person, someone who died in the fighting around this part of the Netherlands.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

When my father was at the cemetery in 1952, it was still being completed. At the end of the war, the task began of recovering the bodies and burying them in the cemetery. During Operation Market Garden, the dead would usually be buried where they fell, and the grave marked with a temporary wooden cross made from whatever materials were to hand.

Identities had to be confirmed and stone gravestones were made for each grave. In 1952, a number of graves still had the temporary crosses used for the initial burial at Oosterbeek.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

There were a number of graves that I wanted to find as the names were clear in my father’s photos. The first was Lieutenant J. C. Crabtree, named on a cross at the end of a line of graves towards the far end of the cemetery. In 1952, this section of the cemetery still had the temporary crosses.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The same graves today:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

J.C. Crabtree was Jack Colin Crabtree who died on the 21st April 1945 at the young age of 20.

The son of Herbert Beaumont Crabtree and Dorothy Crabtree, in the 1939 census they were recorded as living at 13 St. Margaret’s Avenue in Luton, the house is still there. Jack’s father was listed as a Suprt Body Builder Motor and was obviously employed in Luton’s car manufacturing industries. Dorothy was described as Unpaid Domestic.

Jack Colin Crabtree was a Lieutenant in the Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment). His death was in the closing months of the war, the Netherlands were fully liberated in May 1945 when the surrender of the German forces in the country was negotiated on the 5th May 1945.

Another grave I wanted to find was of a soldier in the Polish Parachute Brigade. The Polish parachute forces landed south of the river, opposite Oosterbeek in the closing days of  Operation Market Garden when the British forces were being pushed into a tight perimeter in Oosterbeek. The Polish landing date had been delayed by fog on the English airfields and when they landed the Germans were prepared for their arrival and the Poles suffered terrible casualties.

They managed to establish and hold a perimeter south of the river until the arrival of the main land forces which enabled the withdrawal across the river of the surviving British troops from Oosterbeek. A number of the Polish soldiers made it across the river to help man the ever shrinking Oosterbeek perimeter,

This is the original, temporary cross at the grave of Private M. Blazejewicz:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

This year, I photographed the permanent gravestone:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

Some of the details on the original cross appear to have been corrected on the later headstone. The date of death has changed as well as his rank.

The grave is of Mieczyslaw Blazejewicz, with a rank of Starszy Strzelec (this seems to translate to a Senior Private or Lance Corporal) in the 3rd Parachute Battalion of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade. He was born on the 24th November 1920 at Lancut, a town in south eastern Poland.

He was killed whilst trying to cross the River Rhine to get to Oosterbeek on the 26th September 1944. As with many of those killed whilst trying the cross the river, his body would drift downstream and his body was recovered from the river at Rhenen on the 9th October. He was 23, just two months short of his 24th birthday.

There are a number of Polish soldiers buried in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. Their gravestones are distinctive by having a more dome shaped top, unlike the other gravestones.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

As you walk along the rows of graves, reading the inscriptions, one thing that always stands out is the very young age of those who fought and died. The majority are in their twenties, however there are many who were 18 or 19.

This is the grave of Private Dennis William Harrison of the 2nd Airborne Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. Dennis was 18 years of age when he died on the 24th September 1944, the day before the survivors who still held a shrinking perimeter in Oosterbeek were given the order to withdraw across the Rhine.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The South Staffordshire Regiment arrived over two days. The majority arrived in the first day of the campaign, Sunday 17th September, with the remainder of the regiment arriving on the following day. It is probable therefore that 18 year old Dennis William Harrison was fighting from the 17th September until his death on the 24th September.  In the 1939 census, Dennis father was recorded as a Coal Mine Charge Hand and his mother Annie was recorded with Unpaid Domestic Duties. They lived at Ballinson Road, Blurton Stoke-on-Trent, in a house that is still there.

This is the grave of Leading Aircraftman R. J. Eden in 1952:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The same gravestone in 2018:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

It is lovely to see that the Jewish tradition of leaving stones on the gravestone to show that you have visited the grave is in evidence on R.J. Eden’s grave, as well as a number of other graves of Jewish soldiers in the cemetery.

According to the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery records, R.J. Eden was Roffer James Eden, serving with 6080 Light Warning Unit as part of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

The Light Warning Units were one of the many specialised roles in an airborne force.  They were equipped with Light Warning equipment which was used to signal and coordinate with fighter aircraft providing cover for the ground forces. The Light Warning equipment was just about small enough to fit into a pair of Horsa Gliders. Four gliders were used to transport the Light Warning equipment on the second day of the campaign. Each pair of gliders held a complete set of equipment so in theory loss of one, or a maximum of two gliders would allow one set to arrive safely, however the transport plane for one glider was hit by flak and crashed, and the second glider was also hit by flak and crashed. By chance, both the crashed gliders were the same one from each pair, so the two gliders that arrived safely were each carrying the same half of the equipment needed to build an operational Light Warning Unit.

Once on the ground, and if they could not perform their primary role, Roffer James Eden, along with other roles such as glider pilots would fight alongside the other forces.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that Roffer was the husband of Annie Eden of Victoria, London. Despite the unusual name, I have not been able to track down any details of Roffer James Eden. The transcript of RAF deaths records his first names as “Roffer J or Eckstein Jacob”, however I have also not been able to find an Eckstein Jacob Eden.

There are many graves across Oosterbeek cemetery where the identity of the person is unknown.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

In the following photo from 1952, a block of graves have the temporary crosses. The grave nearest the camera is marked as ‘unknown’ that on the right only has a date. Behind there is the grave to a Corporal, but with no name, and a bit further to the right another unknown soldier.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

In the following photo from 1952 there is a cross on the left with 6 names.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

I checked the names which are fully visible and they are all from 570 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. and they appear to be a full crew from a single plane.

Robert Carter Booth, aged 22 was a Flying Officer, Navigator. Francis George Totterdell, aged 24 was a Pilot Officer, Wireless Op./Air Gunner. Dennis James Blencowe (no age recorded) was a Flight Sergeant, Air Gunner. John Dickson, aged 24 was a Flight Lieutenant, Navigator.

To add to the evidence that they were all on the same plane, their date of death was the same, the 23rd September 1944.

570 Squadron was based at RAF Harwell in Berkshire. They flew Short Stirling aircraft and during Operation Market Garden they operated as tugs for the Horsa Gliders for the initial drops, then until the force at Oosterbeek was withdrawn they ran supply drops. Most of these were unsuccessful as the Germans had overrun the drop zones and the soldiers on the ground had no working radios to communicate with the aircraft.

Written accounts from those on the ground at the time tell of the bravery of the RAF crews making the supply drops. They would fly in relatively low and slow and many aircraft were lost after being hit by high levels of German fire from the ground and attacks by German fighter aircraft.

In his book Arnhem by Major-General Urquhart, the commanding office in Oosterbeek, he writes of the supply drops:

“Twice in the afternoon the RAF tried to get supplies to us. Their first mission at 12:45 pm was disastrous. The aircraft were shot up by ME109s before our eyes and there was some evidence that the Germans were using our signals to attract some of the supplies. The second mission at 4 pm was much more successful and we acquired a small proportion of the sorely needed ammunition and rations as they fell. It was a costly day for the RAF, whose losses were twenty per cent of the aircraft taking part”.

Also on another drop “Again, the ground signals were laid and lit, and the troops held out parachute silks. But the aircraft kept to the planned dropping points and the Germans again found themselves receiving gifts from their enemies. only the overs reached us. Some crews, overshooting, came round in the face of most appalling flak. Some aircraft were on fire. Hundreds of us saw one man in the doorway of a blazing Dakota refusing to release a pannier until he had found the exact spot, though the machine was a flaming torch and he had no hope of escape.”

As their date of death was the 23rd September, this was towards the end of the campaign and would have been during one of the attempted supply drops.

Another of my father’s photos of the cemetery in 1952.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

And another of the many graves to unknown soldiers.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

Temporary crosses:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

Some of the graves have photos of those buried.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

This is the grave of Private Ivor Rowbery of the South Staffordshire Regiment. He was 22 years old when he died on the 22th September 1944 when a mortar hit his gun pit near the Oosterbeek Old Church.

By the gravestone is a copy of a letter he wrote just before leaving the UK for Oosterbeek and Arnhem. It was the letter that would be sent to parents, wife, next of kin in the event of the soldier’s death in battle. Ivor Rowbery addressed the letter to his “mom”. (Click on the photo for a larger photo – it is a letter that should be read)

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

It is a wonderful letter, no nationalistic flag waving, just a quiet pride in his home and family, and concern for his mother should he be killed in the conflict.

Next is the grave of William Frank Lakey, aged 23 and a private in the Parachute Regiment. He came from Upper Holloway, London. A photo provides a reminder that all these gravestones are for individuals who died at far too young an age.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

Looking down from the entrance to the rear of the cemetery:

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The view from the cross at the far end of the cemetery towards the entrance. Row upon row of gravestones for those killed in action during Operation Market Garden or from other fighting as this part of the Netherlands was liberated.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

The events in and around Arnhem and Oosterbeek in September 1944 are still commemorated every year with events such as the Airborne Wandeltocht and other commemorative ceremonies. One of which is when children of the area place flowers on all the graves in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. A plaque in the entrance commemorates this annual event.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

A photo from the Imperial War Museum archive shows the first time this ceremony took place.

Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery

THE BRITISH AIRBORNE DIVISION AT ARNHEM AND OOSTERBEEK IN HOLLAND (BU 10741) Dutch children pay their respects to the fallen and lay flowers on the graves. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205192049

The ceremony still takes place, and this year on the 23rd September the children whispered the name of the person buried as they place flowers on the grave.

It is too easy to be overwhelmed by the number of graves in war cemeteries, however it is so important to remember that each one was an individual with hopes and ambitions for the future, with a family, with a life back in their home country.

Today, as well as my Great Uncle Arthur who died in the First World War, on the 30th October 1918, I shall be remembering William Frank Lakey, Ivor Rowbery, the crew from 570 Squadron on a resupply mission in their Short Stirling aircraft, Roffer James Eden, Mieczyslaw Blazejewicz, Jack Colin Crabtree and all those buried in the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

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Walcot Square And Lost Prefabs

The challenges facing the High Street have been much in the news over the last few years, with the failure of many shops and restaurant chains. This is the latest manifestation of a process that has been changing the way we shop for many years. It was not so long ago that the corner shop was the main source for day to day provisions. A corner shop could be found on the majority of London streets and the outline of many of these remain to this day, and for this blog post I went in search of one we photographed in 1986 to see what remained. This is the Walcot Stores in Walcot Square, Lambeth:

Walcot Square

The same view today:

Walcot Square

The Walcot Stores has long closed, but parts of the painted sign and the shop front remain. The conservation appraisal for the area records about the shop front that “Despite some surviving elements, unfortunately the door and much of the timber has been replaced and inappropriately stained.”

Looking into the original shop reveals a mix of goods. Tins of soup, boxes of fruit juice, packets of biscuits and in the left hand window, household cleaning products, toothpaste and soap.

Walcot Square is in Lambeth. Follow the Kennington Road, and just after the grounds of the Imperial War Museum are a couple of streets that lead into an early 19th century development centered on Walcot Square.

in the following map, Kennington Road is the vertical orange road in the centre. The Imperial War Museum is at the centre top, and just below this is the Walcot Estate centred around two triangular greens, just to the right of Kennington Road.

Walcot Square

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

The Walcot Estate is one of those places that can be found across London which have a very distinctive character and are different to their surroundings. I have written about similar estates before, such as the Lloyd Baker estate.

The land in this part of Lambeth was once owned by the Earls of Arundel, then the Dukes of Norfolk. In 1559, Thomas, Duke of Norfolk sold a parcel of land, and in 1657 this land was sold to Edmund Walcot.

There must have been a family connection to the area as Edmund’s uncle, Richard Walcot also owned some local land which Edmund inherited.

Edmund left the land in trust to St. Mary Lambeth and St. Olave, Southwark, for the benefit of the poor. At this time the majority of the land was undeveloped, apart from some limited building, it was mainly used for agricultural purposes.

The land left to St. Mary and St. Olave went through a number of partitions, enabling the two parishes to own their specific block of land, with the line of the present day Kennington Road roughly forming the border between the partitioned land.

Building commenced in the early years of the 19th century. Walcot Square was constructed between 1837 and 1839.

The name Walcot Square does not fit the area. Walcot recalls Edmund Walcot who left the land in trust to the parishes, however the area is not really a square.

The grassed section in the middle is more a triangle than a square, whilst the name also extends along the road that leads down to Kennington Road and up towards Brook Drive.

The Walcot Stores were at the eastern end of Walcot Square, towards Brook Drive. After photographing the old store front, I walked along Walcot Square towards the central grassed area.

In the following photo, the old shop is in the building on the left. In the front of the single storey building is a very old looking stone.

Walcot Square

A closer examination reveals a stone with a number of inscriptions. The date appears to be 1779.

Walcot Square

The stone pre-dates the construction of Walcot Square so was probably a boundary stone, possibly to show the land had been partitioned between the parishes of St. Mary and St. Olave.

I checked John Rocque’s 1746 map to see if I could find any obvious boundary (assuming that the boundary was in place 33 years before the date on the stone).

The following map extract shows the area in 1746.

Walcot Square

Some of the main roads that exist today could also be found in 1746. Part of Kennington Road along with Hercules Road, Lambeth Road and Lambeth Walk.

I have marked roughly where Kennington Road extends today and also the area occupied by the Walcot Estate, which in 1746 mainly consisted of fields.

There is a very hard boundary running diagonally down from Lambeth Road with cultivated agricultural land on the left and open fields on the right. This may have been the partition between St. Mary and St. Olave’s land, however the boundary does not look to be where the stone is to be found today – this is assuming that the stone is in the original location, Rocque’s map is correctly drawn and scaled, and that my interpretation of where the future extension to Kennington Road would run, and the future location of the Walcot Estate is correct.

Again, one of the problems with my blog where I worry I do not have enough time to research the detail – however I found it fascinating to find that a boundary stone that pre-dates the building of the entire estate can still be found.

Walking from the location of the shop, a short distance along Walcot Square brings us to the main area that could be considered a square. Here, the view is looking in the direction of Kennington Road with one of the corners of the triangle of grass, and the houses of Walcot Square on either side.

Walcot Square

The square and housing was built between 1837 and 1839. The Kenning Road extension had already been built, along with the large houses that faced onto Kennington Road, so Walcot Square was the typical expansion of building back from the main roads into the fields.

The square consists of two and three storey houses, along with a small basement. the ground floor is raised so a small set of steps leads up from the street to the front door.

Walcot Square

The north western corner of the square ends in a short stub of a street. The large gardens of the houses facing onto Kennington Road block the street. On the left is a rather attractive single storey building with a part basement below. The unusual design is probably because of the limited space behind, as this building could not intrude into the gardens of the house on the left.

Walcot Square

I wonder if it was the original intention to purchase the houses and land that block the extension on to Kennington Road and extend the above street and Walcot Square housing directly onto Kennington Road?

Leaving Walcot Square, walk along Bishop’s Terrace and you will find St. Mary’s Gardens (which must have been named after St. Mary, Lambeth, one of the parishes that had received the land in trust from Edmund Walcot). The layout is almost a mirror image of Walcot Square, with a triangular central garden.

Walcot Square

St. Mary’s Gardens was built at around the same time as Walcot Square so is of 1830s design and construction.

Compared to the continuous stream of traffic along Kennington Road, the streets of the Walcot Estate are quiet, and apart from the street parking, the general appearance of Walcot Square and St. Mary’s Gardens are much the same as when the estate was completed in the 1830s.

Walking back to Kennington Road, there is another of the typical 19th century standards for estate building. As with shops, pubs were also a common feature at the end of a terrace, or corner of a street, here at the junction of Bishop’s Terrace and Kennington Road:

Walcot Square

The pub was until very recently the Ship, but appears to have had a name change to The Walcot 1830 – a clear reference to the construction decade of the adjacent estate.

Lost Prefabs

Nothing to do with the Walcot Estate, but these must be in the local area.

The photo adjacent to the photo of the Walcot Stores on the strip of negatives from 1986 shows some prefab houses:

Walcot Square

Whilst the prefabs have almost certainly long gone, I was hoping that the distinctive building in the background could still be found, however after a lengthy walk through the streets of this part of Lambeth, I could not find the building in the background, so the street in which these prefabs were to be found in the 1980s remains a mystery.

It would be great to know if any reader recognises the location.

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Tryon Street, Chelsea

If you walk from Sloane Square, along the King’s Road, pass the Saatchi Gallery on the left and a short distance further on the right will be Tryon Street, a very narrow Chelsea street leading from the King’s Road. No entry signs indicate that you cannot drive directly into the street as it is a one way street with traffic entering from Elystan Place to the north.

Walking from the King’s Road reveals a street that has hardly changed in 70 years. This is my father’s photo:

Tryon Street

And my 2018 photo taken on a very sunny September afternoon:

Tryon Street

I took the 2018 photo in Black & White as I suspect using colour artificially over emphasizes the changes in a scene, and in Tryon Street there has been very little change in 70 years.

The bollards have been changed, however a continuous line of bollards still runs the length of the street. There have been some cosmetic changes to the buildings, with a bit more structural change in the buildings nearest the camera. The road has been resurfaced, yellow lines have been added and the same metal chamber cover is in the same place in the middle of the road.

I am not sure why my father took the photo of Tryon Street. There is no obvious feature in the photo. i suspect the bollards had something to do with the decision to photograph the street as the line of bollards leading of to the end of the street enhances the composition of the photo.

I could not find that much information about Tryon Street. It is only a short street, the above photos show the full length of the street and it was only named Tryon Street in 1913, the street was originally part of the much longer Keppel Street, however the origin of the name is fascinating.

Tryon Street was named after Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon who died when his ship sunk in the Mediterranean in 1893. The name of Tryon Street recalls a major naval tragedy.

Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon was the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet and leading the fleet in his ship Victoria. The fleet was to move from off the coast of Syria and make their way to new anchor positions off the Lebanon at Tripoli. The London Evening Standard on the 4th July 1893 details the circumstances of Tryon’s death and the sinking of the Victoria in a letter from “a Senior Office of the Fleet”:

“When ships are in columns of divisions, as we were, they ought to be twice the number of cables apart as there are ships in the longest line or column. We had six ships in the first division, and five in the second division- i.e. we ought to have really twelve cables apart (2400 yards); but we were only six cables (1200 yards). The diameter that the slowest ship is supposed to take in turning 16 points or right round is 800 yards. therefore two ships would occupy 1600 yards. We were coming up from Beyrout about six miles from the shore, and were in two divisions, but only six cables (1200 yards) apart.

The Admiral wanted to anchor the Fleet in line abreast, one division behind the other, to do which he had to re-form the fleet first, by turning the ships right round. He could have done two things, either turning each division outwards, or each inwards. He, for some reason, made the signal to turn inwards, namely, each ship in the division to turn in succession inwards on arriving where he turned. The two ships turned inwards, and the Camperdown closed watertight doors, seeing it impossible to avoid a collision. She struck the Victoria nearly at right angles, both ships going eight knots, just before the fore turret on the starboard side.

The Victoria had a fearful hole in her side, and as she heeled, her turrets and guns may have got loose and helped to turn her. She first seemed to have her bows under water, but made the signal ‘Negative sending boats’ and a semaphore, ‘Do not send boats but have them ready’. the next thing that I saw was that she began to heel over to starboard, and then more, until I could see her port screw going round out of water, it was a horrible sight. Next she seemed to make a plunge forward to starboard, and suddenly went right over, and we saw for a brief moment a most sickening sight, which I am sure, filled us all with awe – the enormous bottom upwards and both screws going round. I can see it now. In fact, one can never forget it. Then she sank and all was still. Of course, all boats in the Fleet were away as soon as we saw her with such a heel, and remained there until dark. However it was soon known that our Commander in Chief was gone. The poor engineers and the stokers in the engine-room and the stoke-hole ! Theirs must have been an awful death – too awful to think of. Thank God though that their end was not a slow one, for I think she blew up, as a few seconds after a huge volume of smoke arose to the surface.

One of the ship’s officers told me that there was hardly time to close the water-tight door, and when he tried to get below, he was stopped by the volume of water, so he began to get the boats out. But soon it was a case of ‘all hands for themselves’.  I believe the Admiral was last seen holding on to the rails of the chart-house forward, and would not leave the ship. poor fellow, I suppose at that last minute, he perhaps realised the mistake he had made and thought it best to show an example to duty by stopping at his post, although he told those around him to save themselves, for which I hope the country will forgive him. None of us can understand why the signal was made, although Markham hesitated in obeying it, and why the latter, fully knowing and realising the danger of the manoeuvre, ever carried it out.”

As well as Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon, 22 officers and 336 men died in the sinking of the Victoria, although some reports put the number of casualties as high as 422. Of the casualties, 19 were were recorded as ‘boys’.

The wreck of the Victoria was considered to be in too deep water to attempt any recovery of bodies, and HMS Victoria still sits at the bottom of the Mediterranean near Tripoli, Lebanon.

The Illustrated London News carried a number of illustrations of the tragedy, including the following illustration showing the Victoria starting to turn over, with one of the screws already out of the water.Tryon Street

HMS Victoria before the tragedy:

Tryon Street

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HMS_Victoria_(1887).jpg

I cannot find any association between Sir George Tryon and the street that now has his name, however he did have a London house at Eaton Place, not that far away, on the other side of Sloane Square, where his wife was in residence at the time of the disaster.

Portrait of Sir George Tryon from the many newspaper accounts of the disaster:

Tryon Street

Whilst Tryon Street may appear rather ordinary, the origin of the name is anything but.

Walking down Tryon Street, there are some interesting buildings. A short distance along on the right is this building. In the original photo, just the entrance on the left is visible.

Tryon Street

Further along, on one of the terrace houses on the left is a rather ornate plaque. Chelsea had a a long association with pottery so perhaps the plaque is from, or has some relevance to the Chelsea potteries.

Tryon Street

At the end of the street is a typical Victorian corner pub – the Queen’s Head.

Tryon Street

The pub closed on the 7th September 2016 and has been waiting for planning permission to be granted for changes. Originally a full conversion to residential was proposed, however the latest planning request is for residential on the first and second floors, and extension to the roof with conversion of the extension to the left of the pub also to residential.

The intention is that the pub will reopen on the ground floor and basement as a pub and restaurant.

The rather strange looking extension on the left of the pub is an early 20th century conversion, where the original house that was part of the 19th century terrace that runs along Tryon Street, was demolished and the pub extension built. It was used as a lounge bar to the pub.

I cut an extract from my father’s original photo to show the detail of the pub as it was.

Tryon Street

The pub sold Barclays Beers. There is what appears to be a pram parked outside the pub.

The Queen’s Head is a very distinctive feature on the corner of Tryon Street and Elystan Place. The building is higher than the terraces on either side helping the pub to stand out.

Tryon Street

Decorative feature of the Queen’s Head on the first floor of the pub facing onto Tryon Street.

Tryon Street

The Queen’s Head facade facing Elystan Place.

Tryon Street

In the short time I was in Tryon Place, it seemed very quiet, very different to the King’s Road at the end of the street. There was no through traffic and just the occasional walker using the street as a cut through to somewhere else.

A search through newspapers revealed the normal adverts of goods for sale, situations vacant, tragedy and strangeness that can be found in any London street over the years.

On the 2nd of August 1940, Mr William Hendra aged 70 dropped dead in Tryon Street whilst on his way to work. He had been a foreman painter for 46 years and left a widow, fours sons and three daughters.

In October 1952, a man was arrested at 4:40 am “because he insisted on standing in the middle of Tryon Street, Chelsea and playing a trumpet. David Patrick (aged 22 and described as of no occupation), of Sheffield Terrace, Kensington, was at West London, fined £1 on a charge of insulting behavior. He was ordered to forfeit 10s of his bail because he arrived late.”

In February 1940, the secretary of the Ye Old Bell Loan Club and the Queen’s Head Loan Club, both of the Queen’s Head pub, Tryon Street was sent to prison for a month after the loss of £70. In what must have been a very common situation, the secretary was out of work and having to support five children on 39s a week unemployment benefit. The magistrate appears to have been sympathetic as he said “I am exceedingly sorry to see you in the position you are now. It is impossible to pass over an offence of this sort. I don’t say you started taking money intending not to repay, but it is gross carelessness on your part to take £70 without knowing what had become of it. Unless you had a good character I would certainly have given you a long sentence. As it is, go to prison for a month and think yourself exceedingly fortunate”.

Looking back down Tryon Street towards King’s Road:

Tryon Street

It is always interesting to look at the pavement when walking London’s streets, as well as the buildings. There are plenty of covers to coal holes along the pavement. This one is marked as Green & London – Chelsea, London, SW.

Tryon Street

The cover was purchased locally as Green and London were an ironmongers located at 121 King’s Road.

Tryon Street has changed very little over the last 70 years. A short street that most people appear to use as a cut through to and from the King’s Road, however it is a street with a name that recalls a naval tragedy of the late 19th century.

It will be good to see the Queen’s Head restored and reopened as a pub. There are too many lost pubs in London so retaining this fine Victorian example will be one small victory.

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Lower Marsh Market And L & N Cohen

For this week’s post, I am in Lower Marsh, just to the south of Waterloo Station, however before getting into the post, can I say a big thanks for all the comments to last week’s post. Within a few hours on Sunday morning, your comments provided:

  • The source of the name Flockton – Webster Flockton, who had a tar works in Spa Road, Bermondsey
  • It appears there was nothing sinister with Violet Rose Dicker’s disappearance, she probably ran away with her future husband
  • The correct location of the photograph – Bevington Street

It is really good to have another of my father’s photos correctly identified, I will never know why he labelled it as Flockton Street, I will check the photos again to see if there is one of Flockton Street as perhaps the wrong photo was labelled. I will also take a walk to Bevington Street to take a photo in the right location.

There is no such mystery with today’s location. I worked around Waterloo for 10 years between 1979 and 1989, and one of the lunchtime walking routes was along Lower Marsh, a street lined with shops and a busy market occupying the length of the street.

This is the shop of L&N Cohen at 27 Lower Marsh on the corner of Frazier Street photographed in 1986:

Lower Marsh

This is the same building today:

Lower Marsh

The two photos provide a summary of the changes in the area, as can also be seen across so much of London. The building is no longer the “House for Value” and is now an independent local supermarket selling artisan bread.

I assume the same Cohen family had been running a clothes shop in Lower Marsh for many years. I found the following photo of the same shop in the LMA Collage archive. The photo is dated 1950.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0942_80_3901

The initials changed between the 1950 and 1986 photos, so I assume ownership of the shop moved to later generations of the Cohen family. It is interesting that the same structures can be seen across the front of the first floor of the building, running across the windows. I could not work out what these were for, whether a very large awning, fixing for signage that was once in place, or strengthening of the building wall. What ever it was, it has long gone and the building today has been considerably renovated and extended along Frazier Street.

Lower Marsh runs in the shadow of Waterloo Station. The name hints at what the land in the area was like before the developments between the street and the river. When I worked in the area the street was always known as the Cut rather than Lower Marsh. However the street today named The Cut runs to the east of Waterloo Road.

The following map extract shows the location of the building (the red dot, just to the lower left of centre), Lower Marsh runs from lower left to upper right. Waterloo Station dominates the area to the north. Waterloo Road is the orange road on the right, with The Cut leading off Waterloo Road to the top right corner.

Lower Marsh

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

When I work in the area, the Lower Marsh market was always busy with the street lined with stalls selling all manner of typical market goods, however today, the street appears much quieter with nearly all the stalls selling food. I have not walked along here for a few years, so not sure if this was a typical day, however it is a very different market to that of the 1980s.

Lower Marsh

The Lower Marsh market has a long history, but trading was not always peaceful. An article in the Illustrated London News on the 27th January 1872 shows some of the problems with attempts at Sunday trading:

“SUNDAY TRADING IN THE NEW-CUT: The Lower Marsh, Lambeth, which is popularly called ‘the New-cut’, has long been the regular weekly haunt of a numerous assembly of costermongers, dealers in fish, rabbits, and pork, sellers of cheap hosiery, pottery, hardware, trinkets and toys, who have been permitted to set up their little stalls, or to place their barrows and baskets at the sides of the wide street. This trade has gone on every Sunday at eight o’clock in the morning to one in the afternoon, while most of the neighbouring shopkeepers were obliged in self-defence, to have their business open at the same time.

Two or three weeks ago, the vestry board of St. Mary’s, Lambeth, passed a resolution to the effect that printed notices should be posted through the parish, cautioning all persons in the habit of exposing goods for sale that such a practice would not in future be allowed on Sunday mornings, and that any person so found offending would be summoned before the magistrate on the charge of creating an obstruction, the penalty on conviction being 40s. It was also resolved that the inspectors of nuisances for the parish should be employed to see that the terms of the notice were strictly enforced. The police authorities had declined to interfere, unless the order were to be applied to shopkeepers as well as to costermongers; but a double force of constables was placed on duty to prevent any breach of the peace.

On Sunday week, the trade began at the usual hour, but at nine o’clock, six of the Lambeth nuisance inspectors, in uniform, appeared upon the scene, and, accompanied by police-constables and followed by a large body of roughs, yelling and hooting, visited the stall-keepers in succession, ordering each to remove the stall, barrow or basket at once. If they merely removed to other places, they were followed by an inspector, who took down the name and address of the offending dealer, informing him he would be summoned.

As a rule, the officers, while performing their disagreeable duty, were treated with civility; but were very generally told that, if prevented selling their goods as usual, the costermongers would be compelled to throw themselves upon the parish, as they mainly depended for their scanty living upon the profits of the Sunday morning sales, when they did more business than on all the other days of the week.”

The articles goes on to state that the issue was discussed further in a number of vestry meetings, with a considerable number of shop-keepers, rate payers, shop assistants and costermongers urging the vestry that regulation rather than prohibition was required.

The vestry agreed on a compromise that allowed the market to go ahead on a Sunday morning, providing the stalls were removed by half-past ten o’clock, before church time.

The article finishes with a sentence that illustrates the working conditions that constrained the lives of so many of the working class:

“It is said that many of the working-class families in Lambeth cannot get their needful purchases for Sunday on Saturday night, because they work late on Saturday and do not receive their wages till the evening.”

Lower Marsh today, looking west with the old Cohen shop immediately on the left:Lower Marsh

Another view along Lower Marsh:

Lower Marsh

There are still many interesting 19th century buildings along Lower Marsh. On the front of one building at 127 Lower Marsh, there are two large urns on the either side of the first floor windows.

Lower Marsh

Apparently these are Tuscan oil jars and were often found on the facades of former oil shops. The ground floor of the building today is occupied by a Thai Restaurant, however in 1972 it was occupied by “Taps & Tiles”:

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_251_72_1090A

The Eastwood’s sign on the side of the building in 1972 has disappeared. I have not been able to find out if this was the name of a possible oil shop, or some other business on the premises.

Lower Marsh from Westminster Bridge Road end:

Lower Marsh

The London metropolitan Archives, Collage collection has a number of photos of the Lower Marsh market over the years, the following are a sample.

The first is one of the earliest I could find and is dated 1896, only 24 years after the Sunday trading issues detailed earlier in the post.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_251_77_1062

This is from a time when the majority of shops had awnings and frequently large advertising boards across the facade, as can be seen with the Danish Dairy Company in the above photo. I wonder if the remains of these fixtures could still be seen across the front of Cohen’s shop in 1986.

The following photo is from 1950. The text that goes with this photo states that “the market stretched from Blackfriars to Vauxhall”.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0942_90_3903

I have not been able to find any evidence that the market stretched all the way from Blackfriars to Vauxhall – this would have been a considerable distance. It may have been that, as described in the 1872 Illustrated London News article, costermongers and traders could have sold from baskets and stalls anywhere along the roads south of the river from Blackfriars to Vauxhall, rather than a single, organised market. Street trading was much more haphazard before the 20th century.

This photo is again from 1950, and is at the eastern end of Lambeth Marsh, close to the junction with Waterloo Bridge Road.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0942_90_3903

This final photo from the Collage archive is also towards the Waterloo Bridge Road end of Lambeth Marsh. The photo is from 1950 and shows Waterloo Station in the background.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_251_80_3912

I hope the early Friday afternoon that I walked down Lambeth Marsh was not a normal market day, it was very quiet and with considerably less variety than the market of the 1980s, however demographics change and I suspect the market today reflects local demand as it is, rather than as it was.

These changes between 1986 and 2018 can be clearly seen in the changes to 27 Lower Marsh.

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Flockton Street – A Bermondsey Mystery

The location for this week’s post is a bit of a mystery. The notes my father wrote for the following photo were “Flockton Street looking south from Bermondsey Wall. 19th century slum dwellings ravaged by the blitz – Summer 1948”.

Flockton Street

I will explain why this photo is a bit of a mystery as I go through the post, but firstly, where was / is Flockton Street?

The location is on the south of the River Thames, east of Tower Bridge. The street ran south from Bermondsey Wall, a short distance to the east of St. Saviour’s Dock. The following extract from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows the location. I have rotated the map so north, and the River Thames is at the bottom of the map and south at the top of the map. This rotation is to align the map with my father’s photo.

Flockton Street

So far, all looks good. I have marked the position from where I assume the photo was taken, and Flockton Street is the street running upwards from the red circle. My father’s photo is looking along a street with housing either side (although not as much housing in the map close to the camera as there is in the photo). The space on the right of the photo could be the location of the slate works shown on the 1895 map.

In my father’s photo there is a taller building on the left, behind the terrace houses. In the 1895 map, roughly where this building would have been located there is a school, and the limited view of the building in the photo does look like a typical Victorian London school.

But when I went to find the site, I started to have doubts.

As would be expected, the area is very different today. Flockton Street was a long street in the 1895 map, but today, only a couple of short stretches remain, one of which did not exist in 1895,

The following map shows the area today (with north and the River Thames at the top of the map). (Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”)

Flockton Street

I have circled one stretch of Flockton Street at the top of the map. This stretch meets Bermondsey Wall at the top of the map, and presumably the point from where my father took the photo.

At the other end of this short stretch is Chambers Street, a street that did not exist in 1895.

I have circled the next identifiable stretch of Flockton Street in the middle of the map. This is a short length from George Row that also did not exist in 1895.

Flockton Street in its original alignment has all but disappeared, although there is what appears to be an unnamed street running from Chambers Street roughly where Flockton Street would have been, although today this is more a walkway in between the flats that now cover the area, rather than a street.

Whilst walking around the site of Flockton Street, there were two main issues with confirming it was the location of my father’s 1948 photo. The first is the short stub of Flockton Street where it joins Bermondsey Wall.

Bermondsey Wall is an old street, that as its name implies was at one time aligned or part of the wall / embankment along the edge of the river. I am not sure when the name Bermondsey was used for the street, in Rocque’s map of 1746 it is called Redriff Wall for the section just east of St. Saviours Dock, then Rotherhithe or Redriff Wall for the rest of the street (Redriff was one of the earlier names for Rotherhithe, hence the alternatives shown on Rocque’s map).

Flockton Street is also not the original name. The London Evening Standard on the 8th August 1878 reported that “Salisbury Lane, Neckinger Road, Bermondsey will be renamed Flockton Street and also renumbered”. There is no additional information to explain why the renaming was needed, or why the name Flockton was chosen. The only person named Flockton that appears in 19th century newspapers is a Thomas Flockton of Leadenhall Street who was a shipping and insurance broker.

Today, Bermondsey Wall has been divided into two sections (with the addition of east and west to the street name) by the works for the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

In the following photo I am standing in Chambers Street looking down Flockton Street towards Bermondsey Wall.

Flockton Street

And in the following photo I am at the Bermondsey Wall end of Flockton Street looking in the direction of my father’s photo.

Flockton Street

There is a significant difference between my father’s photo and the above view. The street is very narrow (as confirmed in the 1895 map) and there is a significant dip in the street unlike my father’s photo which shows a much broader, flat street.

The dip in the street is significant as this hints at the undisturbed nature of this section of Flockton Street.

One of the documents that the Thames Tideway Tunnel had to complete as part of the application for development consent was a Heritage Statement. This document provides an interesting read to get a better idea of the history of the area. For Flockton Street there is the following text:

Flockton Street

The dip in this section of Flockton Street is therefore the evidence for a deep 19th century drainage channel. It does not appear in my father’s photo.

My next thought was whether the 1948 photo was taken from Chambers Street looking along Flockton Street, rather than from Bermondsey Wall. I checked the 1940 edition of Batholomew’s Atlas of Greater London and Chambers Street was not there in 1940. The following extract shows Flockton Street (just to the right of centre of the map) running up to Bermondsey Wall.

Flockton Street

The 1940 map does show the school in the same possible as in 1895 and in the right position as regards the 1948 photo. I doubt that Chambers Street would have been built between 1940 and 1948.

Walking to the other side of Chambers Street, opposite the entrance to the small stretch of Flockton Street is this view.

Flockton Street

This is looking along where Flockton Street was on the 1895 Ordnance Survey map. In this lower part of Flockton Street, there is an open area on the left and the new school buildings that have replaced the Victorian building.

On the right is a block of flats, the first of the flats that cover the land up to where Flockton Street originally met George Row to the south.

It is the design of these flats that also gave me a problem with confirming that this was the location of my father’s photo. Another view of the flats is shown in the photo below, standing in the open space that would once have been Flockton Street.

Flockton Street

My problem with these buildings is that they do not look like post war design, and indeed they are not. I could not find the exact date of construction, however there are newspaper reports which mention some of these blocks in the 1930s. One of these reports, from the Daily Herald on the 9th November 1938 concerns Weller House, one of the blocks of flats between George Row and the original southern end of Flockton Street. The report itself hints at what appears to have been some rather tragic events in the area:

“Police Seek Clue From Blonde – South London police are seeking a young, fair haired girl, who, they think, may be able to help them trace 16 year-old Violet Rose Dicker missing from Weller House, George-row, Bermondsey. Violet is the fifth girl to disappear from Weller House, a block of flats, in six weeks. 

Rosie seemed quite happy until she went to a dance a fortnight ago, her mother said last night. She said she had stayed away two nights, and said she had been with a girl friend.”

I can find no further reports of what happened to Violet Rose Dicker or the other four girls who disappeared from Weller House so no idea whether this was normal teenage rebellion, or something more sinister.

This is the view of Weller House from Scott Lidgett Crescent (part of what was East lane in the 1895 map). The southern end of Flockton Street would have been through the middle of the flats, roughly where the building moves from light to shade.

Flockton Street

So I am still not sure whether Flockton Street is the location of my father’s photo. The notes were generally written after he had taken the original photo, often after he had developed the negatives and printed some of the photos. As I have worked through his photos, it is very rare for the written notes to be wrong, however I suspect with this photo the location may well be wrong.

The school is in the right position, but if the view of Flockton Street is from Bermondsey Wall, the narrow section with the dip is not visible and I doubt Chambers Street was in existence in 1948 – it was not on the 1940 map.

Also the blocks of flats between George Row and Flockton Street appear to be of pre-war construction, certainly those to the southern end of what was Flockton Street are pre-war.

The photo is in Bermondsey, photos on the same negative strip either side of this photo are in Bermondsey. Perhaps some time spent in local archives may reveal the location, but at the moment, this is still a mystery location.

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The Airborne Wandeltocht

My final post from the Netherlands before returning to London for next Sunday’s post. The Airborne Wandeltocht (or Airborne Walking Tour) is an annual event on the first Saturday in September where a series of different length walks takes participants around the sites in Oosterbeek that featured in the events of September 1944.

The first walk took place in 1947 and walks have been held annually since, to commemorate and remember those who fought and died around Oosterbeek and Arnhem, and to raise money for charities associated with military veterans and youth projects.

Airborne Wandeltocht

This year, on the 1st September, the 72nd walk took place and 32,809 walkers took one of four route options around Oosterbeek. The routes start at 10km with longer options up to 40km. All routes take in the Hartenstein Hotel (now the Airborne Museum), the Oosterbeek War Cemetery (which I will write about in November) and the Oosterbeek Old Church on the edge of the town and river which featured in the defence of the critical length of river needed to escape to the south.

The 40km walk extends to include the landing grounds to the north west of Oosterbeek.

The walk formally starts at 11 o’clock with a parade along the main road in front of the Airborne Museum, although many of the longer distance walkers will have started earlier in order to complete the walk during the mid-afternoon.

Across the whole event the flags of Poland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are very much in evidence to commemorate the airborne forces, the resistance and the civilians who fought and died in and around Oosterbeek.

The opening ceremony makes very clear that this is not a glorification of war, it is to remember those who fought, were wounded and died in the liberation of the Netherlands and the restoration of freedom and democracy.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The parade to formally start the walks includes a wide range of groups – those from the emergency services, scouts, charities along with current armed services and cadets, including representatives from the UK,

Airborne Wandeltocht

In between there are groups of walkers. The walk is very much a family day out.

Airborne Wandeltocht

Along with marching bands – a Dutch specialty.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The formal start / end point on the Utrechtseweg, the main road running through Oosterbeek and one of the roads taken by the airborne forces as they moved from the landing grounds towards Arnhem.

Airborne Wandeltocht

A number of British veterans attend the event each year, they have pride of place in the marquee next to the start / end point. Here, they are standing by the memorial to commemorate the 65th Airborne Wandeltocht – 74 years after they fought in the surrounding area.

Airborne Wandeltocht

All around Oosterbeek there are permanent signs telling the story of September 1944. In the following photo of a house on Utrechtseweg, a pillar can be seen on the pavement to the right of the front door.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The pillar records that the 10th Parachute Battalion fought here to virtual extinction, and that on the 23rd September the remnants of the battalion were withdrawn.

Airborne Wandeltocht

A key point on the route is the Oosterbeek Old Church. The church is on the outskirts of the modern day town, close to the flat stretch of open land that runs between town and river. The church is one of the oldest in the Netherlands, dating at least back to the year 900. In restoration work after the war, pre-christian features were found under the church so the site has been of importance for many centuries.

The church is open on the day of the Airborne Wandeltocht and all four routes pass by the church. It makes a good resting point and a fascinating location to explore.

Airborne Wandeltocht

As well as the permanent pillars, there are also photo signs at various points along the walk showing what the site looked like following the events of September 1944. The church was badly damaged in the fighting.

Airborne Wandeltocht

There are still plenty of bullet holes to be found in the walls.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The church was a central point in the fighting to defend the gradually shrinking pocket of land held by the airborne forces. Keeping a length of the river and the route open to withdraw to the river was critical in making sure that the airborne forces were not cut off in Oosterbeek. Towards the end of the battle, the width of land occupied by the British, and the Polish forces that had made it across the river was down to 700 yards.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The restored interior of the church – very busy on the day of the Airborne Wandeltocht.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The Pegasus emblem of the Parachute Regiment can be found across Oosterbeek and Arnhem. In the Oosterbeek Old Church it is on the kneeling cushions, wall memorials and on the font.

Airborne Wandeltocht

Another view of the church.

Airborne Wandeltocht

A small plaque underneath the tree reads:

“In the thick of the fighting when a patrol of five Airborne warriors was standing by this lime tree, a mortar shell hit the place and killed four of them.

Only Mark Leaver survived. Staff sgt. G Squadron, Glider Pilot Regiment, born 20th January 1920, died 31st October 2000″

Another memorial in the churchyard to the British, Polish and Dutch men and women “who fought a grim battle around this ancient church to liberate the Netherlands from Nazi tyranny.”

Airborne Wandeltocht

The flat lands between the church, the southern edge of Oosterbeek and the river in the distance. A bridge over the river can be seen in the distance. It was over this land that the final overnight withdrawal took place, across the river to the southern shore where advance parties of the British 2nd Army and the Polish forces who had landed a few days earlier, had taken the river bank.

Airborne Wandeltocht

The Airborne Wandeltocht threads its way through the streets of Oosterbeek, walking through streets that were once the scene of deadly fighting. Pegasus flags of the Parachute Regiment fly from the majority of houses.

Airborne Wandeltocht

Another example of the information posters along the route showing the same scene in 1944.

Airborne Wandeltocht

Crowds of walkers returning through the central streets of Oosterbeek:

Airborne Wandeltocht

Returning through the formal end point of the Airborne Wandeltocht. The walkers return to the main assembly field to collect their medals.

Airborne Wandeltocht

Not something you expect to see, a bagpipe band in the Netherlands. These are the Seaforth Highlanders of Holland. They were formed to commemorate the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, who were part of the Canadian armed forces who liberated parts of the Netherlands during 1945. They were formed in Vancouver in 1910 following the large number of Scottish immigrants to Canada.

Although the Airborne Wandeltocht is just one of many events held during September to commemorate the impact of Operation Market Garden in Arnhem and Oosterbeek, it is by far the biggest event with this year well over 32,000 people of all ages taking part.

The walk does an excellent job of weaving together the history of September 1944, events at key locations and remembering the sacrifices of the British and Polish airborne forces and the Dutch civilians.

Next year’s event will take place on the first Saturday in September and details can be found on the web site of the Airborne Wandeltocht. (There is an English version, but Google translate does a good job with the full site).

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